For many years, I have made homemade gifts with my children for their grandparents. I always wanted the gifts to be something that went with their home décor and that they would use and cherish–not your typical ice-cream stick picture frame or soup can pencil cup.
Here are a few gift ideas that even the youngest child can make for a parent, grandparent or teacher:
• Pot a plant. Take your child shopping and let him pick out the pot. You may choose to purchase a simple clay pot and paint it to match the recipient’s dining room. Then, with a little guidance, he can pick out a bulb or plant to put into the pot. Just don’t forget the potting soil.
• Draw or paint a picture. We like to use quality paper from a sketch book. Choose oil pastels, colored pencils or watercolors and let the child create. Frame the picture in something appropriate for the grandparent’s home.
• Paint and put handprints on a pre-bought shirt. This is a fun project. My mom still cherishes the sweatshirt we made many years ago. I started it with my children’s handprints. Under each print I painted the child’s name and date of birth and at the top I painted the words “Merry Christmas, Nana.” Or for babies who cannot yet keep their little hands uncurled, put a footprint. I then mailed the shirt to my sister who mailed it to another sister and then to my sister-in-law. We kept it up-to-date with each new birth. When my mom passed away last year, the grandkids (mostly adults) had a friendly fight over that shirt. You can use this idea for either grandmother or grandfather, too.
• Tell a story, sing, or perform on video clip. Twelve years ago, we moved 1,200 miles away from our extended family. This idea helps loved ones see and hear a little of what the children can do. They can read, sing, play musical instruments, or perform a skit. Video clips can be transferred to a DVD with a little tech knowledge and enjoyed for years to come.
• Create a memory book. Take a particular experience your children have had with their grandparents, like a vacation trip or a family visit and ask them to draw a series of pictures depicting the highlights. Have them caption the pictures in their own words. You can staple them together or punch holes in the margin and thread a ribbon through to hold it together. You can do a modified version of this by gluing photos to construction paper and have your children draw frames around them and write the captions. An older child or teen could create a more elaborate scrapbook using mom’s scrapbooking materials.
• Color a picture with Crayola® transfer crayons. These crayons create an iron-on transfer. When we did this, we ironed the pictures onto tee towels. You can also transfer the pictures to T-shirts, quilt blocks, or anything fabric.
• Placemats. This gift idea has always been a hit for our grandparents, especially those that do not live close enough to see the children regularly. With just a few supplies and an hour in the afternoon, your children will enjoy putting these together. If you intend to give them as Christmas gifts, you can decorate them with holiday colors and decorations. If the occasion is a birthday, stickers or rubber stamps with balloons or cakes make nice decorations. Also, lace, ribbons, pressed flowers or other trims can be covered with the clear contact paper.
• One piece of poster board 14”x16”
• One sheet of 8 ½ x 11 paper
• Photograph of child and paper stock to frame it
• Clear contact paper
• Any other stickers, stamps or trims you want to use
• Glue stick or photo splits (found in the scrapbooking department of a craft supply store)
Cut the poster board to the appropriate size.
Cut your framing paper slightly larger than your photograph. Attach the photo to this paper with a glue stick or photo splits.
Have your child draw a picture on the plain piece of copy paper.
On another small piece of paper, write or type the child’s name and its meaning. You may also add an appropriate scripture verse or quotation.
Place all the pieces on the poster board and glue down. Wherever there is room, trace around the child’s hand, or make a handprint using acrylic craft paint.
Laminate the front and back with clear contact paper. Cut the contact paper larger than the poster board, adhere to the poster board and trim ¼” away from the edge of the mat so that the contact can stick to itself. This step is very tricky. I suggest mom do this for the child.
With a little thought, a few supplies and a lot of imagination, you and your children can produce lovely gifts. But if you really don’t think you have that creative gene (or the patience to work with the little ones) here are a few more gift ideas you can get those seniors in your life.
• Puzzle book
• Deck of cards
• Favorite snack food
• Grocery store gift certificate
• Magazine subscription
• The latest novel
• MP3 player with her favorite music already loaded
• Digital picture frame with a memory card of pictures
And remember, no matter what the gift-giving occasion, the elderly prefer your presence to your presents.
For 25 years, freelance writer Carol J. Alexander has used these ideas and more with her children to create gifts for Grandma and Nana.